Peking into the Past

Long-standing Chinese restaurant stays true to its roots

Peking Restaurant opened in 1979 as the second Mandarin-style Chinese restaurant in Stockton. The first? An eatery opened by Owner Bill Chu’s dad in Lincoln Center in 1978. Bringing delicious Mandarin and Sichuan cuisine to Stockton was the family’s goal—and more than 40 years later they are still making that dream come true.

Bill’s wife, Curterina Chu, says the restaurant has undergone several décor changes to update the space since it first opened, but the menu is largely the same. The focus is on authentic Mandarin dishes. “Our food is different from the Cantonese style of Chinese cuisine that so many people are used to,” she says. “ My husband Bill who has since retired created most of the recipes.”

Since Bill’s retirement, Renwei Xiong has taken over as head chef. He’s been with the eatery for nearly 20 years, so he knows the menu well. This type of dedication helps Bill and Curterina stay true to their original menu. After all, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

When you step into Peking Restaurant, the emphasis is on casual eats with family-style dining. It isn’t fussy, which means you can stop in anytime you’re having a craving for good Mandarin or Sichuan food, and bring whoever you want, including the kids.

If you’re not sure what to order—take it from Curterina. “My absolute favorites are the steamed fish—it is so aromatic—Mongolian chicken—nice and spicy—and sizzling rice soup, simple yet flavorful,” she says. Customer favorites include the house chicken, hot braised whole rock cod, hot and sour soup, and potstickers, which are made by hand in house. Although most of the menu has remained the same, some additions have been added. “We now have Chicken lettuce wraps, which have become a hit,” Curterina says.

The rock cod is used in multiple dishes. Caught in the San Francisco Bay and deep-fried to a golden brown, top it with sweet and sour sauce and you have the Sweet and Sour Rock Cod. Customer favorite Hot Braised Fish is the whole fried fish braised with green onions and finished in a spicy ginger sauce. Curterina’s favorite, the steamed fish, is a seasonal catch served with julienned fresh ginger and green onions in a house wine sauce.  All three fish dishes are served as small, medium, or large—like many items on the menu.

While most of the cuisine falls in Mandarin and Sichaun categories, The Chus also serve the Korean dish kimchi. Traditionally made using salted and fermented vegetables such as Napa cabbage and Korean radishes, the popular dish is seasoned with chili powder, scallions, garlic, and ginger. While it isn’t Mandarin, the dish is a nod to Bill’s childhood. Growing up in South Korea, he often ate kimchi with his meals and he wanted to bring his own non-fermented version of it to his restaurant, using white cabbage as a substitute to better complement Chinese cuisine.

If you want to try the restaurant’s namesake, order the Peking Duck. The young duckling is prepared in a specially built oven to turn out the best meat, and 72 hours is needed for preparation. Served boneless with Peking pao-ping, a thin Chinese pancake, and with scallions and plum sauce, it’s one of the restaurant’s most special concoctions. Another namesake, Prawns A La Peking, is a dish of succulent, stir-fried prawns, fried with chopped garlic, water chesnuts, onions, and minced garlic in a house tomato sauce before being topped with green onions.

Whatever you order, you can’t go wrong—and there is a LOT to order on the long menu, either for dine-in, take out, or delivery. And you can pair menu items with Tsing Tao beer, domestic beers, or a glass of wine. “I know these are difficult times and I want assure customers that we take COVID-19 seriously and use all precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of the virus by constantly cleaning surfaces and requiring all employees and customers to wear a mask,” Curterina says.

Dig In:
7555 Pacific Ave., Ste. 115, Stockton
(209) 800-8963
PekingStockton.com

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